I believe that we seek connection with others because it provides a space of understanding and acceptance, a back and forth to build upon that feels safe – a kind of seal of approval from another, if you will.
That thought came to me one morning not long ago as I was fixing some toast. And as soon as it flitted away to wherever acknowledged thoughts flit, I had a flash from some 35 years ago that ended up offering an additional level of awareness as an added bonus. A two-fer. You know how I feel about those!
When I was nineteen I went to Germany for the summer through a school program. I had only two choices for my living arrangements. I could either work at a restaurant and live alone in a little apartment, or I could live with a family and work on their farm. Well, from the title of this post, you know what I chose to do!
I was matched with a family with two little ones under the age of four. I was kind of like an Au Pair, helping with the children and the housework. I even mucked out the hen house a couple of times (how many of you can say that?) and helped round up bulls that had gotten out of their stalls (or say this?). I became very close to the family, especially the wife, and returned the next spring for five months.
You have to remember that my stay on the farm had been long before the internet and texting. There was no checking out where I was going on Google Earth nor befriending the family on Facebook ahead of the trip. And once there, the communication with my own family would only be via weekly letters and occasional phone calls.
So, when my parents and I traveled to Germany several years later and visited the farm, it was their first time to get a real feel for my experience. At the initial meeting, which is the genesis of my flash, my father and the husband on the farm, neither speaking the other’s language, went on a tour together, gesticulating and speaking loudly. It was quite a sight. I trailed behind them for a bit, but they were in their own world and didn’t need me at all.
What they were doing was establishing a connection. The acceptance part had already been a few years in the making because of their relationships to me. That walkabout, however, which still stands out in my mind, was their unique attempt to learn from and understand each other. (More layers are involved, but this is where I’m leaving it.)
The bonus part of my flash was simply that the closeness we wish to achieve with others is really what we are trying to achieve within ourselves. We are looking for that same connection, understanding, acceptance and safe space – internally. The outside world provides lots and lots of clues to what’s going on on the inside. The road always leads back to us, even dirt paths on a German farm.